Copper could be the solution for displaced coal miners on the Navajo Reservation – by Ryan Randazzo (Arizona Republic – March 15, 2018)

With the impending closure of the Navajo Generating Station coal-fired power plant near Page in December 2019, hundreds of power plant workers and coal miners will need new jobs. Arizona’s copper mines could offer them opportunity.

Thanks to rebounding copper prices, copper mines across Arizona have hundreds of job openings today. The major companies, Freeport-McMoRan Inc., Resolution Copper and Asarco, all said they would be interested in hiring displaced workers from Peabody Energy’s Kayenta Mine should it close.

“Increasing copper prices, from $2 in January 2015 to $3.20 in February, has driven increased production and exploration, and additional employment is sure to follow,” said Steve Trussell, executive director of the Arizona Mining Association.

“Growth in the U.S. and global economies powers mineral exploration and mining in Arizona.” Arizona is ranked the No. 1 state in copper production and No. 5 for sand and gravel production, he said. In addition to copper, he said gold and other mines in the state are expanding, offering job opportunities.

Before SRP started to wind down operations at the coal plant and relocate workers a year ago, there were 430 people employed at the power plant and 325 workers at the Kayenta Mine about 80 miles away. The mine’s only customer is the power plant.

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